Since the 18th century The Giant’s Causeway has often been described as ‘The Eighth Wonder Of The World’ and once you have visited the site you will quickly see why.
The area consists of an estimated 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns, which were formed during a volcano eruption 60 million years ago.
Strangely, the Causeway is thought to have lain undiscovered by the outside world until a visit in 1692 from the Bishop Of Derry (Londonderry). The Bishop alerted authorities in Dublin, who then notified learned circles in London. Many papers were produced and many theories on how it had been formed were put forward.
Many of these theories were deeply rooted in science and although very valid, they make a very boring read. My favourite explanation of how the Giant’s Causeway came to be lies in the legend of Finn McCool.
Finn McCool (Fionn mac Cumhail) an Irish Giant lived on an Antrim headland and one day when going about his daily business a Scottish Giant named Fingal began to shout insults and hurl abuse from across the channel. In anger Finn lifted a clod of earth and threw it at the giant as a challenge, the earth landed in the sea.
Fingal retaliated with a rock thrown back at Finn and shouted that Finn was lucky that he wasn’t a strong swimmer or he would have made sure he could never fight again.
Finn was enraged and began lifting huge clumps of earth from the shore, throwing them so as to make a pathway for the Scottish giant to come and face him. However by the time he finished making the crossing he had not slept for a week and so instead devised a cunning plan to fool the Scot.
Finn diguised himself as a baby in a cot and when his adversary came to face him Finn’s wife told the Giant that Finn was away but showed him his son sleeping in the cradle. The Scottish giant became apprehensive, for if the son was so huge, what size would the father be?
In his haste to escape Fingal sped back along the causeway Finn had built, tearing it up as he went. He is said to have fled to a cave on Staffa which is to this day named ‘Fingal’s Cave’.
Other versions of the legend include Finn throwing a huge piece of earth which then became the Isle Of Man and the hole which it left behind became Lough Neagh.
Around And About The Causeway
The Giants Causeway is a spectacle to behold. The coastal scenery is awe inspiring and the cliff walk that leads above and around the Causeway is breathtaking.
If you follow The Causeway Coast path you can reach Dunseverick Castle and Harbour in just 5 miles. And for the more fit rambler this 12 mile walk will lead you straight to Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge. Although the path is narrow and mostly unsurfaced you will be rewarded with views that you will remember all your life! Even if you can only manage a few miles or kilometres for the aerial views of the Causeway alone, it really is a must for all visitors!
Unless that is you have young children with you, in that case you may want to avoid the cliff path with its distinct lack of fences and walls and safety features!